Friday, June 30, 2006

One Vote?

I don't know why it's so hard for me to believe. The people in the Senate have repeatedly proven themselves to be idiots. I'm just having trouble with the fact only one vote kept the Flag Desecration Amendment from passing. I know, I should just be happy it didn't pass. But I would've expected something akin to the Defense of Marriage bullshit. A Senatorial version of throwing tomatoes. But no. We were one vote away from having our rights curtailed by the constitution. I'm not going out and burning flags. But I should be able to, if I want to. As should any American. Freedom. It's a good word. Maybe some of those senators should go look it up.

In other news, the Supreme Court voted against Rumsfeld. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I received from People for the American Way:

Today brought a major victory for the rule of law –and a stunning defeat for the Bush Administration. Ruling 5-3 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court overturned an appeals court’s determination that military detainees are not entitled to fundamental due process rights including the right to be present at their trials and the right to confront witnesses against them. The hallmark of American justice and that of most civilized nations is that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, and today’s ruling sends a strong signal to the president that his administration cannot continue to ignore the rule of law.

At least something's working. However, I heard a report on All Things Considered this morning about the legislation changes this is going to require. Our right-wing government will surely find a way to do what it wants.

Well, I feel manipulated, scared, and depressed. Have a good day!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here We Go

Prompted by this article (excerpted here):

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's embattled anti-abortion license plates could hit the streets within three months.The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to consider an appeal challenging such plates.

  • Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


As well as a vague memory of a great 88.5 report on the Florida license plates sporting the same slogan, I looked up a little more about the issue. Here's a great article from Slate, titled Poetic Licenses:


"The legal issue isn't complicated, and it helps to separate it from your feelings about abortion. It's a free speech question: Can state governments endorse speech representing only one side of an issue as controversial as abortion? Has the state, by opening up license plates as a forum for private speech, incurred a constitutional obligation to allow speakers of every viewpoint equal access to that forum?"

"Most of the courts that have considered the issue have wussed out on the First Amendment question altogether, finding the plaintiffs in those cases lacked legal "standing" to file suit, since they had never endeavored to sponsor "Choose Abortion" or "Choose Choice" license plates themselves. Another court decided last month that the "Choose Life" plates in South Carolina were unconstitutional, in that the state was promoting only one side in the debate. Immediately, a South Carolina legislator introduced a "Choose Death" license plate, which he insists fairly expresses the other side in the debate. Newspapers recently noted that the "Choose Death" plate may still prove popular with death-penalty enthusiasts (and perhaps with hunters, werewolves, and NRA members as well). Less clear is whether it will satisfy the plaintiffs from Planned Parenthood.
License plates became a constitutional issue in 1977 when the Supreme Court decided
Wooley v. Maynard, a case involving a family of Jehovah's Witnesses who had taped over the "Live Free or Die" part of their New Hampshire license plate. The Maynards claimed that New Hampshire violated their free speech rights by forcing them to broadcast a political sentiment with which they disagreed. The high court ruled that states could not force individuals to be "mobile billboards" for messages they loathed. The "Choose Life" cases don't involve this sort of compelled speech, however, since no one in any state is forced to purchase the specialty plates—people buy them voluntarily.
Specialty plates were virtually unheard-of in most states until 1987, when Florida issued a plate commemorating the space shuttle Challenger. That plate alone raised more than $30 million for space-related programs, and today Florida issues more than 50 specialty plates. Forty other states have specialty-plate programs, and for the most part they celebrate non-controversial organizations: sports teams, schools, veterans, NASCAR, or saving the whales, with the additional fees benefiting that cause. The "Choose Life" plates in Florida feature the words "Choose Life" in childlike crayon, along with a beaming boy and girl—presumably of the happily adopted variety—also rendered in the key of crayon. Most of states with "Choose Life" programs provide, as does Florida, that the proceeds of these sales go exclusively to organizations that counsel women with unwanted pregnancies to choose adoption. In fact, the legislation in most states expressly provides that any program offering referrals or even discussing the option of abortion is barred from funding.
When the first "Choose Life" legislation passed in Florida in 1998, then-Gov. Lawton Chiles vetoed it, stating that license plates were not necessarily the best forum for exploring the complex nuances of the abortion debate. But Gov. Jeb Bush signed the bill when he was elected in 1999, and the Louisiana legislature adopted similar legislation shortly thereafter. South Carolina followed in 2001. All have resulted in lawsuits, with the first two states' suits going to the Choose Lifers and the third going to the plaintiffs. So far. "

"It's not at all clear how the "Choose Life" lawsuits will shake out. But it seems obvious that if a "Choose Life" tag is constitutional in Virginia, a "Honk If You Love al-Qaida" plate should be constitutional in New Hampshire, as well. Which would probably give a whole new meaning to "Live Free or Die.""


Leave it to Florida to start this slippery trend. Just thought it was worth some time on the page. Though this article was written in 2003, we still haven't resolved the issue. Check out the rest of the article here:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Hero

In other news: Stephen Colbert is awesome. On a recent episode of The Colbert Report, he played a clip of a Fox News anchor discussing the horrors of those "liberal tree-huggers" who "want to tell us what to do with our trash." (quotes are not exact). Colbert went on to agree that our trash is a private matter. "No one can tell me to separate my green glass from my clear glass!" He then made sure we realized our bodies and genitals are the property of big government. These things are public domain. The government needs to tell us exactly what to do with them.

No one else but a Catholic liberal pretending to be an evangelical right-winger (calls O'Reilly "papa bear") could make this point so well. Gotta love it.

Those Crazy Cameroon-ians

I just read an article on Broadsheet, which comments on the horrors of "breast ironing" in Cameroon, West Africa. According to Broadsheet, "wooden tools, heated bananas and coconut shells are often used to iron and beat away at young girls' budding breasts in an attempt to stunt development. All this to deter sexual advances from men and boys."

Although this practice is horrifying and disgusting, it seems a logical extension of the African practice of Female Genital Mutilation (a controversial label). FGM involves clipping or cutting the clitoris to stunt the woman's sexual pleasure. American's have been outraged about this practice for years.

Here is my problem. Are we completely blind? True, any practice that leads to a discussion of "over-ironing" should be discussed and condemned. Of course I believe that. But how could an article talk about how harmful this practice is to the breast tissue without mentioning the American practice of breast enhancement (which can severely damage breast tissue, rendering the nerve endings completely numb). Why didn't the article mention plastic surgery in general? We are complete hypocrites.

True, Tracy Clark-Forey writes that these women are forced to undergo "breast ironing" against their will. Most women choose plastic surgery. But here we come to the big question, which many people have asked before me. Do women really "choose" plastic surgery? Doesn't society tell them what to look like? How to feel about their natural bodies? Is plastic surgery really a matter of free will?

Above all, I was just surprised plastic surgery went unmentioned. Although the practices are done for different reasons, they are both extremely dangerous, demeaning, and unnecessary procedures. Clark-Forey ends the article with: "But how insurmountable must cultural taboos surrounding women, family honor, and sex seem to Cameroonians for this to be practiced on 26 percent of young girls in the country?" How insurmountable must cultural, familial, and sexual expectations surrounding women seem to Americans for plastic surgery to be practiced on 10.2 million patients (82% women) in the country?

See American Society of Plastic Surgeons for more statistics

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Prarie Home Companion

I don't want this blog to be a complete bitch/moan fest. I saw A Prarie Home Companion a couple weeks ago and thought I'd share my sheer joy.

Though it's not my favorite NPR program, I do listen to the show on occasion. It's a little too simple for me, which I know is the point. I love Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac, though, and I think he is a brilliant, talented man.

Prarie Home Companion just reaffirmed this belief. It was really nice to just sit back and enjoy these actors loving life. They clearly reveled in these characters (especially Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin) and their joy came across the screen.

The music was fun and exciting. I'm pretty sure a smile was plastered to my face the entire time.

That said, I don't know why there was an angel in the movie. I understand what they were going for and it did add another layer to the story. I just didn't like or buy that layer. And Lindsey Lohan. Yikes. She's really disappointing. I loved her in Mean Girls. I still don't understand that choice. Her voice is horrible and her acting was not enjoyable.

Oops! Bitching again. Sorry. The movie was wonderful.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

When did it become okay?

When did it become alright to kill someone we don't like? I will gladly stand up and agree that I think Al-Zarqawi was a maniac and a killer. Does that make it right to drop two 500 pound bombs on top of his "un-safe" house (as Fox so cleverly called it)? I can't believe I haven't heard more of an outcry against this. Am I missing something?

I do not believe that life is sacred. But I also don't believe that we have the right to rub out anyone who does something we don't agree with. Yes, I understand that this man has done horrible and unspeakable things. He was the leader of a terrorist organization. But why isn't it alright to kill Kim Jong-il? Hell, serial killers get a (ostensibly) fair trial before we put them to death. I disagree completely with the death penalty, but at least there is a process, an attempt to make the killing "humane." We dropped two 500 pound BOMBS on a house, killing insurgents and 19 people. Wounding 40 more. What gives us the right to KILL this man? These people?

Another part of my astonishment is that Americans are willing to stand by and look at exactly the extent of the damage we did in this one case. Do we really need CLOSE-UPS of a dead man (in what looks like a gilded frame)? Descriptions of his autopsy? Does anyone care that we're reveling in the death of a man? A person? Nevermind that he was a horrible person.

All anyone can talk about (other than pure rejoicing) is the "mystery." How did he stay alive so long? Why isn't he more pulverized? What the hell is wrong with everyone?

If anyone can shed any light, make any argument for our joyous celebration of this death and/or a justification for the bombs, I'd love to hear it. Maybe I'm just not informed enough. I just can't believe I haven't heard anyone else speaking up about this. Where do we draw the line? I hate the slippery slope argument, but when the shoe fits... When is it okay to kill someone? To target someone? When do we become the terrorists?

Just some quick thoughts. I have no computer right now, which explains the lack of updates. Well, that and the addition of a full-time job to my life. Keep your eye out, though. When I have something to I need to say, I'll find the time to kick my partner off of his computer.